Team A: Rob and Fabian, Team B: Jon and Jim


It felt like years ago that I was able to par-take in another Team Awesome episode of: ‘Let’s explore some stuff, climb some sketchy stuff and push some boundaries!’

Whilst enjoying the ritualistic pre-trip beer, it was great to catch up with Jon and Jim and hearing of the latest developments in Bagshawe which just keeps reminding me that I need to go back and explore the gated sections a little further.

With the plan laid out that Rob and myself would be descending the pitch past the second re-belay and swing into a side passage where Jon and Rob recently discovered a stemple ladder pitch into the unknown. Jon and Jim would follow not far behind but explore two other side passages which required a gutsy swing from the main engine shaft into their destinations.

Getting my usual ‘pre-trip safety brief’ from Rob which usually includes things like: “touch this and you will die”, “rest your foot there and you will kill me” as well as “drop this and we will all die!” I felt somewhat prepared to drop the 70ish meters to the side passage we tried to explore further. Following some re-belay navigation I quickly approached Rob who was waiting for me to join him in said side passage.

Swinging from the main shaft into the side passage

Fabian swinging into the level off the engine, photo by RobE

We quickly ascended the rope they left last week and prepared for the climb up the stemple way. Rob placed one bolt for his Etrier allowing him to get into a better starting position to climb this rift. With rope and bolting kit being hauled aloft he swiftly placed some further bolts allowing me to continue to follow. Two ways on to explore we chose the left… Only to be met with a solid wall with what seemed like failed drill holes. However, there were some amazing examples of miner’s footprints which we found in this passage.

Onwards to the right I free-climbed a little 3m pack wall and entered a rather large chamber with three stemples spanning across. A little window on the right with ore type boulders made us wonder if we found an ore chute? A little further up we found what looked like remnants of a sieve (riddle) which was an amazing find.

Fabian in a new chamber, photo by RobE

An old miner's riddle, photo by RobE

I continued along a sloped climb and was met with a nicely packed shaft reaching at least 10-15m up. Another free-climb for Rob. We applied the same method, Rob would climb, place the bolts, I follow. This time however we introduced a little added surprise by having a melon size boulder drop from the shaft to within inches of my feet… a “Sorry!” echoed down from the heights… I suppose if you explore you need to be on your guard!

Fabian exploring one of the blind side passages, photo by RobE

I met Rob at the top of the pitch and both of us immediately felt deflated. Two ways on, both ways blocked. We tried to move some sand and boulders out the way, but it was not meant to be. We re-organised and following a quick introduction into Surveying we continued back whilst taking measurements of the passages and shafts as we went along.

Fabian climbing up the final pitch, photo by RobE

Fabian surveying down, photo by RobE

Rob de-rigged all pitches leaving only the bolts in situ which was done in as much speed as we took to get there in the first place. I waited patiently at the bottom of the last pitch to pass on some Haribo. I thought we’d need some energy before ascending the engine shaft.

Whilst exiting the shaft I remembered NOT to place my feet anywhere or I would dislodge some ginging which required some upper body strength and technique to get yourself back out of the shaft. Rob made it look a lot easier… but then again, he has done this trip a few times.

Following a quick change, we met the other Team in the Anchor Inn for post-trip beers where we discovered on the Survey that we were only 14m from the surface. However, knowing that both ways on didn’t look promising we were happy that this chapter is for now closed.


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